Maintaining a Gravel Driveway

How to Maintain a Gravel Driveway so that it Lasts for Decades

By Mark J. Donovan

Maintaining a gravel driveway is necessary to prevent it from slowly crumbling apart. Water runoff and frequent automobile use slowly cause potholes to form, and the edges to where down. In addition, if you live in a rocky, cold climate area, large stones hidden under the gravel driveway often work their way to the surface of the gravel driveway due to frost heaves.

Gravel driveway maintenance can be performed by a homeowner, however some rental equipment is usually involved.

A small bobcat is necessary for spreading new gravel and crowning the gravel driveway, and a mechanical roller is needed for compacting the gravel.

My summer home is located on Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire. We access the home via effectively a long gravel driveway. Once every year or so the residents who live off of this “road” / long gravel driveway put some money into it to keep it in good working order.

Typically one of the residents who utilize the long gravel driveway will obtain a few contractor bids and communicate to everyone on the “road” their per-share-cost for maintaining the gravel driveway.

Key Gravel Driveway Maintenance Tips

Maintaining a gravel driveway typically involves bringing in new gravel material and re-grading and re-crowning the gravel driveway. In addition, ditches adjacent to the gravel driveway are cleaned out and reshaped. At the curves in the road or gravel driveway, the ditches are filled with large softball size stones to help control water flow rates.

Also, any culverts that are either damaged or heaving are either replaced or reseated. Finally, a mechanical roller is used to compact and lock in the gravel.

Building a Gravel Driveway

If you are considering building a gravel driveway keep in mind a few key points.

First, the soil under the gravel driveway has to be well drained. All organic material such as topsoil, leaves and sticks should be removed.

Second, install a geotextile fiber fabric over the subsoil to prevent silt from the subsoil working its way upwards into the gravel driveway. The silt can cause the gravel driveway to quickly crumble.

Third, install large stones for the base layer of the gravel driveway. The stones should be the size of a softball and should be angular in shape. Do not use smooth river rock stone as they will not lock together well.

Fourth, add another 4-6 inches of smaller stone over the base layer of stones. These stones should be approximately the size of golf balls. Again, use angular stones.

Fifth, for the final layer of your gravel driveway apply 4 to 6 inches of ¾” size stone with stone dust mixed in.

Gravel Driveway

After spreading the final layer of gravel, make sure to crown the road so that the center of the gravel driveway is slightly higher than the edges. This will enable water to run off the gravel driveway.

Finally, use a mechanical roller to lock the gravel into place.

By following these techniques for maintaining a gravel driveway and building a gravel driveway, you should have a driveway that last for decades.

For more help on Asphalt Driveway Paving, see’s Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid sheet. The Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your driveway is paved correctly and you get the finished driveway you are looking for.

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